Here’s some helpful pointers from five-star international event rider, Kate Honey, about how you can school your horse effectively even if you don’t have access to an all-weather arena
Not having an arena can seem like a daunting prospect in terms of schooling work. However, with a bit of time and imagination you can create lots of different options which in turn will make your horse use to a variety of situations.
1. Road work — if you horse is safe to hack out on the roads, you can look to incorporate some simple schooling exercises into this once they are warmed up. Such as doing lengthening and shortening in your walk and trot work. This can work especially well if you have a good hill to really engage the hind quarters. However, always remember to be wary of your surroundings and to respect other road users.
2. Hacking — in Lambourn we are lucky to have some great off-road hacking and with all the horses I will practice movements like transitions, leg yield, shoulder-in and centre lines as well as giving them some downtime to relax. We find it really beneficial to give the horses variety in their schooling work, so when we get to an event they have learnt to focus in all situations, not just in the arena. This can also link to your jumping. If on your hacking routes there are little logs or even ditches it can really benefit some horses (perhaps if they have gone a bit behind the leg) to do something different, if the ground permits.
3. Local gallops — if there are any local gallops or canter tracks nearby, remember these don’t have to be used just for fast work. They can be a great alternative good ground option to school your horse on, as long as they are available and your horse will settle.
4. Clinic and lessons — use not having an arena as an excuse to book on for some clinics or lessons. This will be good to get your horse out and about to different places and it is always beneficial to have another pair of eyes on the ground.
5. Weather permitting — when the weather and ground permits, we put up a make-shift arena in a paddock. It is essential for our eventers to get some practice schooling on grass and to work in an area without arena sides.
Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these competitions available to enter where you can put this advice into practice…
Unaffiliated fun dressage
Date: 25 January
Venue: High Plains Equestrian Centre, Riding Mill
Details: “This event has classes ranging from intro to novice. Classes are restricted so that everyone will win a rosette.”
Date: 25 January
Venue: Keysoe, Bedfordshire
Details: “This affiliated competition has a range of classes from British Novice/90cm up to 1.40m.”
Date: 26 January
Venue: Moreton Equestrian Centre, Dorchester
Details: “This competition has classes from 50cm up to 1.15-1.20m with pony and horse sections.”
Date: 26 January
Venue: Todburn Equestrian Centre, Morpeth
Details: “This event features classes from 55cm up to 90cm with British Eventing dressage tests.”
Date: 1 February
Venue: Reaseheath College, Nantwich
Details: “This affiliated competition has a range of classes from prelim to prix st georges.”
Ridden and in-hand showing show
Date: 2 February
Venue: Holmside Hall Equestrian, Durham
Details: “This unaffiliated show has a range of classes from tack and turnout for children aged 10 and under to Equifest qualifiers for more seasoned competitors.”
Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings